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No way to export newsletter opt-ins? Really, Paypal?

Paypal has a nice feature that allows you to put a little tickbox onto your checkout page, asking whether a buyer would like to receive promotional emails.

Paypal how do I let customers sign up for my newsletter on checkout ecommerce
(In case you're wondering, this option is hidden under 'Profile' - 'More Options' - 'My Selling Tools' - 'Custom Payment Pages' - and finally 'Options')

Free newsletter signups? Great! I love being able to keep in touch with my previous buyers. I enabled this feature, months and months ago, and promptly forgot about it. After all, I wasn't being notified that these people were opting in to my list...

While working on my newsletter today, I remember having set this up. 'Well,' thought I, 'I could have hundreds of new members to my newsletter! I must dash to Paypal and export this data immediately.'

I went to Paypal. I looked around. I Googled. No luck - I could not find my email list anywhere. Paypal was so kind to collect these emails for me - where oh where could they be??

The answer was hiding right under my nose, but oh how I wish I could report different news.
In short: There is no list.
There is only a notification on each individual transaction details page.
How to check if a buyer has subscribed to promotional emails on Paypal

That's right, Paypal lets us collect these emails, but doesn't let us export them. Instead, I went through six months' worth of transactions, checking them one by one to see if they opted in. If they have opted in, there is an extra line on the Details page that says 'Promotional emails: Subscribed' with the buyer's email address.

This line is in a larger font than the other details. It was the least Paypal could do, I guess.

Adgitize to close imminently

After 3 years, Adgitize will be closing down. The owner, Ken Brown, sent out an email telling members that the site had become no longer profitable and explained what will happen next.

Account signups and new ad submissions have been closed, and on January 1, all ads will stop running.
If you have used Adgitize, make sure you have a valid Paypal address associated with your account. A prorated amount will be refunded for any ads currently running, and publishers will receive any earnings over $0.01, which will go out before January 10. If you do not have any valid payment method on your account by January 31, your earnings will become void, so make sure your Paypal is up to date!

It's a shame that the service hasn't been able to support itself. I've had some good experiences with Adgitize - it's brought me a lot of traffic on the several occasions that I advertised, and it's also brought me many payouts (which usually exceeded the cost of the advertising). I'm pleased that Ken did announce the closure and will be making the payments due and refunding the ads - it would be so easy to take the money and run, so this is very classy of him. It is a reflection of the same spirit in which Adgitize has been run - clear communication and class.

You can find Ken's full statement on the closure on the Adgitize blog.

How much traffic does $20 bring you?

I just read a fascinating series of blog posts from Sodaware - about advertising, and how much traffic you can get for $19.95.

He examined a whole slew of different advertising and marketing methods, both free and pay - for the pay ad services, his budget was $19.95, and for the free marketing, he set a time limit of a half hour. This was a smart way to compare services, because as they say, nothing is free - your time is worth something too. A lot of times, it's more efficient to just pay for advertising than to spend hours on fruitless "free" ads.

Read part 1, the introduction and part 2, the results.

Many of Sodaware's results were as to be expected, but some lessons are worth repeating - like good targeting is key to successful ads. You'll get better results with ads on a well-targeted, medium-traffic side, than poorly-targeted ads on a huge-traffic site.

It's interesting to see the variety of uses and traffic that each ad service can bring - Stumbleupon users are low-attention-span, high-bounce visits that can spark a viral wave of traffic, while a well-targeted ad placed on a highly relevant site can bring in newsletter subscriptions and loyal readers. Which type you choose is up to you, or it could behoove you to diversify your tactics to get both loyal readers and viral bursts.

You Can't Do it All: The Upsides of Outsourcing

When someone starts their own business, they quickly learn they have to take on many hats: web designer, marketer, graphic designer, editor & proofreader, accountant, customer service... and that's besides whatever the business is actually for! Some people are blessed with the skills to do many of these well, but there's always something that you're not good at, and once the business grows past a certain point, you're going to need an extra hand.

As your business expands, you just can't do it all. That's why you need to outsource some of your work. This doesn't have to mean a team of staff or a hired assistant, though it could. But, let's start small.

Just about the smallest you can start at is hiring someone through a Fiverr gig. Fiverr is a site where people post what they are willing to do for $5 - which can range from logo & website design to copywriting to photo editing and much more. If you need a quick hand at something you're not good at, browse around Fiverr and see who you can commission. Before selecting a gig, make sure to read through the seller's feedback. If the gig is a bust, you're only out 5 bucks - but if it goes well, it's often a great deal!

I've ordered a logo design and a blog banner from Fiverr for my business - the logo was returned to me within a day, and I was pretty pleased with the results. You can't expect the moon & the stars for $5, but if you're short on cash, it's a good start and it was way better than I could have done myself.

Remember that you can't do everything yourself - other people can lighten your load, and oftentimes do it better than you could have done on your own. You don't have to spend a whole lot of money for some extra help - a little bit can go a long way. Check within your niche to see if there are people who would be willing to barter for goods or services that you can provide. That way, you get the help you need, and they get something else they want, too.

Free Promotion or Theft? The Fine Line, and treating your readers well

Sometimes, when someone is working to build a brand or promote a product, they can get anxious about anyone else encroaching on their territory. By trying to keep their audience close enough so they won't slip away, they actually have them in a chokehold - thus missing out on opportunities. With a bit more freedom, your true fans can be your greatest asset for free and effortless promotion.

Let me explain with a case study. The TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has become a huge underground hit on the internet, among a completely unexpected demographic - teenage and 20-something males. The entire first season is up on Youtube, along with hundreds upon hundreds of fan videos, Pony-inspired music, remixes, fanart, and so on.
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic - Hasbro's marketing genius, 1000 true fans
Hasbro's main interest in the show was to sell toys, so it let the Youtube copyright infringement slide. And, in allowing the videos to remain online, they have gained a huge base of fans who gobble up every bit of merch that Hasbro can produce, and evangelize the show to other people, creating even more fans. If the show were not easily, freely accessible online, this fanbase would never have created. Only airing on Hasbro's premium cable channel, The Hub, the show would have languished in preteen girl obscurity.

Treat your audience well, with generosity and enthusiasm, and they will do marketing for you. Treat them with suspicion and jealousy, and you may very well end up losing them. This philosophy can be extended to blogging and internet marketing as well. If you desperately scramble for conversions, using tactics like popover advertising or not including full posts in your RSS feeds, you might alienate your readers. But if you are generous to them, you will be repaid with loyal readers who will tell their friends about your Cool Thing, whatever it is. If you love your readers, let them go, and then they will come back to you.

Digital Content is Perfect for Passive Income

Selling digital content is an ideal passive income stream. The reason is, once you've written, designed, photographed, recorded, or otherwise created your content, it's there for good and you can sell as many copies as you like. Unlike selling physical tangible objects, you have infinite stock and so long as someone wants to buy your item, they are able to.

Some examples of digital content are: eBooks, audiobooks, music albums, photographs, computer programs, smartphone apps... The list goes on. Think about what you're good at or what you enjoy doing, and try to think about what sort of digital content fits into that category. Are you a crafty person? Think about instruction manuals or patterns. For instance, I like to knit - so I sell knitting patterns for items I've designed.
Digital PDF knitting pattern file sold for passive income ebooks
If you can set up a shop front, and an automatic delivery system, you're all set. You don't really have to do anything else, and with some luck your sales will start rolling in.

But of course, you need an audience, and you need people to want to buy your product. So, you need a quality product, first and foremost. It needs to be original, interesting, or helpful - and for god's sake, don't copy someone else's work! Don't just slap something on a page, either. It may take quite some time to produce quality digital content, but once you've created it, it will always be there for you to sell. You never have to worry about taking inventory or restocking!

You may also want to do some promotion for your digital content. If you already have a blog or website readership, you already have a potential audience for your product -- so long as it's relevant. Well-placed links on your webpage layout could lead to some sales from people who were visiting your website anyway. If you've got a large web audience already, this may be all you need to do to generate enough sales for passive income.

Otherwise, you might need to expand beyond your own site. Check out websites that sell your particular flavor of digital content - be it eBooks, mp3 albums, craft patterns, whatever. These will expose your content to a much wider audience, usually for a small cut of your sales. If your content is well-presented and high-quality, it has the potential to sell well on outside websites.

When will Entrecard get cleaned up?

Entrecard business card logo

I've been using Entrecard for a long time now. The site has certainly gone down hill, but it has brought me a small amount of traffic and I've met people and discovered blogs that I really enjoy. So, I've stuck with it, even though I'm not as active as I once was. However, the Entrecard staff seems to have all but disappeared. Blogs everywhere are breaking the guidelines, and nothing has been done about it.

Let's take a look at the Entrecard Blog Quality Standards...
There are a few guidelines specifically, which blogs are breaking left and right. The web address must be valid, the Entrecard widget must be present, and most importantly, there must be at least 5 posts within the last 3 months.

An inactive blog is not a quality blog. The great thing about blogs is that they are dynamic. But if a blogger doesn't update, then their blog is just another static webpage. I understand that sometimes life gets in the way of blogging, but there are blogs on Entrecard that have not been updated since last year -- I use the 'report this blog' link on Entrecard, but does it fall on deaf ears? The blogs are never removed.

It is apparent that no one on Entrecard staff is actually paying attention to these reports, and they do not care to enforce the rules. Heck, even the official Entrecard blog hasn't been updated in over 5 months. There is even one account in my category which got 110 drops in the past five days, but the link leads to a 404! The webpage doesn't exist anymore, but somehow it is still getting dropped on -- why doesn't the moderation team do anything about this?

So is Entrecard all but defunct? It saddens me to think that EC has been abandoned, but they have had a long history of poor leadership and rotten choices. I enjoy the free advertising and I enjoy reading peoples' blogs, but Entrecard is obviously not everything that it could be, especially as the staff seems to have fled!